Wine Reviews – Pinot Noir James Millton, Chateau Musar, Tahbilk Marsanne, Clos d’Yvigne, Masi Tupungato

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Wine Reviews

by Paul Howard

yorkshire wineIndulgent!
Pinot Noir, James Millton, Clos de Ste. Anne, Naboth’s Vineyard, Manutuke, Gisborne, New Zealand. 2006. 13%
While Gisborne is an unfashionable Kiwi wine address there is no doubt that the Millton estate ranks as one of New Zealand’s best. Naboth’s vineyard is arguably their top site, a steep vineyard devoted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A faded crimson colour, the quality of this wine is apparent from the very first sniff, offering up a complex perfume of raspberry, cranberry and cherry fruit with Parma violets, smoke and a note best described as newly turned earth. There’s elegance, grace and balance rather than naked power, with moderate alcohol and a refreshing level of acidity. High intensity red berry and cherry fruit overlays earth and forest floor notes before a long spice finish rounds things off. There’s an attractively silky texture with enough grippy tannin to make it excellent with food – roast duck hits the spot for me. Drinking perfectly now and at peak for the next 2-3 years. This is exciting Pinot Noir – and at a very sharp price for the quality and personality on offer.
Vintage Roots, £18.95

wine yorkshire reviewsChateau Musar, White 2001. Bekaa valley, Lebanon. 12.5%
Serge Hochar makes his French-influenced cult wines in the Lebanese Bekaa valley despite the conflicts that have blighted this beautiful region. Musar White is a blend of two ancient indigenous Lebanese grapes: Obaideh and Merwah. It is capable of great longevity and is not released to the market for six years. The Chateau does the ageing for you. Amber in colour, it smells of pastry, marzipan, quince, apricot, apples and pears. It tastes of caramel, apples and quince before hints of oxidation and a polished texture lead to a slow honeyed finish. Rule one when serving it is to chill lightly – 14 degrees is ideal. Rule two is decant it for an hour or so before serving. Rule three is to drink it with food. Try Lebanese mezze, tabbouleh or fatoush. Exciting drinking now and yet there’s extraordinary potential over the next 20 years – so buy some to drink now and some keep.
Majestic, £14.99 or Martinez, Ilkley £16.99

yorkshire wineBargain!
Tahbilk, Marsanne, Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia. 2007. 12.5%
Established in 1860, Tahbilk is an aboriginal word meaning “place of many water holes”. This outstanding Australian winery specialises in grapes originating from the Rhône valley in France. Marsanne is one of these, rarely found outside the Rhône and in fact Tahbilk owns the largest single area of Marsanne in the world. Marsanne is an under-appreciated grape – while capable of richness in youth it also has good ageing potential. This example is light gold in colour. The nose shows nuts, wax, citrus and acacia while the palate suggests apricot or peach flavours that will develop further honeysuckle complexity if aged over the next five or so years. All discreet charm, it has the weight to partner spicier foods, try Thai prawns or a mild chicken korma.
The Wine Society, £8.50

yorkshire wineClos d’Yvigne, Cuvée Nicholas, AC Bergerac Sec, France, 2007. 13.5%
In 1990, Patricia Atkinson and her husband bought a run-down property on the Dordogne near Bergerac to live the French idyll. Then it went wrong. When markets crashed Patricia’s husband returned to England, leaving her alone with little French and no winemaking skills. Patricia’s bestselling books, The Ripening Sun and La Belle Saison, tell her story of triumph over adversity; how one tough woman learnt from scratch with the help and support of the local community. Today Clos d’Yvigne is critically acclaimed, making some of the best wines in the region including this one, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle. A polished brass colour, the nose shows off a subtle interplay of toast and vanilla woven with grapefruit and gooseberry. There’s also a honeyed character which comes from the Muscadelle. The Sémillon adds body and a waxiness that balances Sauvignon’s crisp dry acidity. Try Fish and Chips for a radical food match – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Majestic, £9.99 (£8.99 if you buy two)

yorkshire wineMasi Tupungato, “Passo Doble”, Malbec/Corvina, Mendoza, Argentina, 2008. 14%
There is nothing else quite like this. It’s exciting and extraordinary; an Argentinean wine made in a traditional Italian style. Masi are a high quality Italian producer from northeast Italy. They expanded into the Tupungato valley in Argentina and there make Passo Doble. The name is a pun – it refers to the Argentinean bullfighting dance and also to the ripasso wine-making method employed to boost flavour, texture and alcohol. Malbec grapes are fermented and afterwards another fermentation is induced by adding semi-dried Corvina grapes. The result is an intense ruby-purple wine with aromas of black cherry from the Corvina and plum from the Malbec. Tasting reveals a rich, velvety texture. Layers of black cherry, blueberry and plum fruit are laced with violets, liquorice and a savoury note. There’s plenty of structure, fresh acidity, smooth tannins and good balance. A hint of coffee and black chocolate from restrained oak barrel treatment lingers on a dry finish. This is an exciting wine and as Masi say, “Argentinean Soul, Venetian Style”. Red meat essential!
Oddbins, £10.99

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